Corneal transplantation, the most common transplantation procedure done in the United States, requires access to a sufficient number of donor eyes. We examined how laws governing tissue donation affect availability of corneal tissue by reviewing records of the Lions Eye Bank of Texas, Houston, from 1961 through 1990 (43,696 eyes from 21,898 donors). Relevant Texas statutes included the Uniform Anatomical Gift Act of 1970, the Justice of the Peace/Medical Examiner Law of 1977, and the Routine Inquiry Law of 1988. Before 1970, the mean (+/- SD) number of donated corneas was 72 +/- 38 per year; enactment of each statute above was associated with increased mean annual donations of 215 +/- 87, 1329 +/- 562, and 1958 +/- 33 corneas, respectively. The Justice of the Peace/Medical Examiner Law yielded significantly younger donors (who died of trauma), and the Routine Inquiry Law increased the number of hospitalized donors. Data from this eye bank were compared with current state laws nationwide. Effective legislation is a means to meet national ophthalmic surgical needs.